By Mary Welch

An Icelandic company, deCode Genetics Inc., filed with the SEC to raise $200 million through an initial public offering, the proceeds of which will be used to develop and operate its database subscription and consulting services (DCDP).

The company, based in Reykjavik, did not disclose how many shares would be offered or at what price. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Lehman Brothers Inc., both of New York, are the underwriters.

The company will also use some of the proceeds for its discovery and research programs as well as for capital expenditures.

DeCode is a genomics and health informatics company that is developing products and services for the health-care industry. Its mission is to conduct human genetic research in Iceland in order to increase understanding of the causes of disease. The company believes that with its bioinformatics and high-throughput genotyping facility, certain qualities of the Icelandic population could allow it to identify disease genes and drug and diagnostic targets.

Founded in 1996, deCode intends to use its population-based genomics approach to transform genomic data and health-care data into products and services. The DCDP allows users to ask questions about relationships between genetic and environmental data and disease. The company believes the DCDP should increase the usefulness of human genome sequence data by providing a medical and environmental context.

The DCDP can be used in gene discovery and drug target validation, pharmacogenomics, disease management and health economics, the company said.

In 1998, deCode entered into a $200 million collaboration with F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to identify disease genes based on studies of Iceland¿s relatively isolated population. The research will focus on the discovery of genes or alleles with mutations that predispose people to the development of up to 12 diseases ¿ four cardiovascular, four psychiatric/neurologic and four metabolic diseases. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 3, 1998, p. 1.)

To date, deCode has identified eight locations for disease-causing genes and identified 12 specific candidate disease genes. In addition, it is nearing completion of a computerized genealogy database covering the Icelandic population.

The company already earned milestone payments for finding the location of a gene associated with stroke, for mapping the location of genes contributing to Alzheimer¿s disease and schizophrenia, and for mapping a gene associated with osteoarthritis. Revenues from Roche constitute about 96 percent of deCode¿s revenues for 1999.

DeCode reported 1999 revenues of $16.4 million with a net loss of $23.1 million. The company had $29.6 million in cash at the end of the year.

In addition to Roche, deCode has a DNA array internal use license agreement with Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif.

Roche Finance Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland owns 4.4 million shares, about 13.4 percent of the company. Alta California Partners LP, of San Francisco, owns 2.3 million shares, as does Atlas Venture, of Boston. Both investments represent about 7.1 percent of the company. Kari Stefansson, the company¿s president and CEO, owns 3.1 million shares, or 9.6 percent of the company.

The company¿s proposed Nasdaq ticker symbol is DCGN.